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The Girls of Slender Means (New Directions Classic) Paperback – April 17, 1998
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Top Customer Reviews
a few of the girls stand out, but their tales are so intermingled, & their lives so distantly described that i had a hard time caring. but as a fan of muriel spark's work, i kept at it, and was well paid off by the poignant & shocking ending.
spark did quite the job of showing the reader wartime london- with its' almost purposeful frivolities, willfullness to get on, and its' crushing realities.
i recommend it to fans of her work. i suggest starting with the 'prime of miss jean brodie' if you've had no prior introduction.
Her specialty was the short novel and this one, which comes about one-third of the way through her nearly fifty-year career, is typical and also one of her better efforts. The setting is the May of Teck Club in the Kensington district of London during 1945, a long-time hostel "for the pecuniary convenience and social protection of ladies of slender means below the age of thirty years" living and working in London. (Spark lived in a similar residence while working for Military Intelligence during that same period, following a failed marriage in Rhodesia.) The younger girls -- almost never "women" -- live in a dormitory on the lower floor while the older, more senior ones share bedrooms on the upper floors. The top floor bathroom has a casement window that allows access to the flat roof -- as long as one's hip measurement doesn't exceed 36¼ inches -- and which figures in the story as a meeting place for illicit relationships with men.Read more ›
Its summer, 1945, at the very end of WWII. The story is told primarily from the perspective of Jane Wright, an assistant at a publishing house, whose life combines pragmatism with the idealism of the literary world. She becomes acquainted with semi-famous, anarchistic author Nicholas Farringdon, "on loan to the Americans," who's only interested in the May of Teck Club for one of its residents. The residents of the boarding house are still very much affected by the recent war; one of them, in tours of the building to prospective residents, shows them the place where a bomb nearly went off and another where, in her opinion, a bomb still was that never exploded.
The Girls of Slender Means is a lot like A Far Cry from Kensington in many respects: there's the boarding house, the overweight publishing employee, the post-war atmosphere. Muriel Spark's work tends to be a lot like that of Barbara Pym--there's a certain sort of quiet gentility in both writers' novels. I've mentioned this before, and I'll mention it again: Spark is witty. It's a charming story... except for the tragedy that occurs within.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Muriel Spark's short 1963 novel The Girls of Slender Means offers both a philosophical punch and a wonderful description of life in England just as the Second World War was coming... Read morePublished 12 months ago by M. Buzalka
Probably like most people here I've come to this book having first read Muriel Spark's wonderful "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Amazonerguy
I've always wanted to read this author and this is my first book of hers. I wasn't overly impressed, found it slow going for the majority. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Nicola Mansfield
A slender book, but deft and haunting. A feminist goodread.Published 16 months ago by E. Jane Hedley
This book, it seemed as I read, wanted me to think it frivolous. Oh, what a cute, slim little thing, chronicling the lives and loves of “the girls of slender means,”... Read more
This is a short work, and as others have already mentioned, Spark crams a lot of different characters into it. Read morePublished on January 23, 2014 by Clare
Lightweight and boring besides. What was the point of this novel? I always expect Spark to do better. Don't understand why her reputation is so high. Read morePublished on November 22, 2013 by Evalyn F. Segal
Wonderful work from another time....London WW II. A slice of how women faired during the difficult time leading up to the war.Published on November 22, 2013 by davidson